November112019

How Enterprises are Driving Innovation with Hybrid Cloud

By harbourit ,

As more organisations seek to harness the next generation of digital innovation, many are finding that the use of public cloud services meets their unique application workloads, offering the ability to process “Big Data” analytics for better business intelligence more quickly. For businesses that need support for private cloud requirements, Microsoft’s Azure Stack can transform regional enterprise operations by using hybrid cloud solutions to seamlessly and consistently manage data centre infrastructure on world-class facilities with hyper-scale providers globally.

What is Azure Stack?

Microsoft’s Azure Stack is a cloud computing platform that was released to provide a hybrid cloud experience to replace or supplement on-premise servers. At its core, Azure Stack is an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) solution that can be used for building, testing, deploying, and managing applications. Azure Stack is quick and secure. It features Microsoft’s Hyper-V hypervisor for virtualisation, allowing administrators to run any Windows or Linux distribution required for software application support in production. Azure Stack will also support Kubernetes and OpenStack integration. It can be used with VMs in complex SDDC orchestration or as a stand-alone web server operating system.

Azure Stack is an extension of Microsoft’s Azure and is a rich platform for developers to build modern applications. The Azure Stack architecture allows you to provide Windows services to remote locations when disconnected or with intermittent connectivity. Azure Stack allows you to create hybrid solutions that process data locally and then aggregate it in Azure for additional processing and analytics. Our Azure Stack solution is a fully-managed private cloud, where you have the ability to deploy cloud applications locally with compliance for all industry regulatory requirements. Data can be ported to the cloud for customised artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning (AI/ML/DL) applications.

Azure Stack is a fully integrated, pre-installed Windows data centre solution for hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) that can be used to build private cloud facilities in an on-premise data centre or consumed as a service via an MSP. By integrating Azure Stack facilities locally with Microsoft Azure Cloud platform resources in over 100 data centres globally, Australian enterprise businesses can adopt data centre management solutions based on the Windows operating system that can be integrated with any combination of public and private cloud hardware in production.

Azure Stack private cloud orchestration can assist Australian businesses in preserving legal auditing compliance for customer data in financial, banking, and insurance institutions through Microsoft’s cloud certification guarantees. These solutions also have significant application in data centre operations for industrial manufacturing companies such as automated factories, mines, logistics, delivery services, etc.

Microsoft Azure Stack: Unlocking hybrid cloud innovation

The main advantage of the Azure Stack solution is that it provides a consistent Microsoft Windows operating system across all elements of a data centre. Under hybrid cloud models, this includes private cloud in an on-premise facility or colocation centre, public cloud, and edge servers. Enterprise businesses with large investments in custom code require guaranteed runtime consistency for production applications. Azure Stack allows developers to program software applications with artificial intelligence and machine learning capability integrated through SDN for local manufacturing operations. Publishers in media and software use Azure Stack to connect private servers to Microsoft’s vast network of international data centres for faster data connections to major markets, Programming teams can utilize the Visual Studio platform to collaborate with version control using GitHub, Docker, or other solutions to implement CI/CD solutions for software development. DevOps, SDN, and HA provisioning enables businesses to unlock greater cloud innovation with Azure Stack.

Some of the main aspects for enterprise businesses to consider with Azure Stack adoption are:

  • Hybrid capabilities

    Although many businesses use public cloud services to build on modern architectures and manage “Big Data”, many workloads must remain on-premise for security reasons. Microsoft’s Azure Stack has hybrid cloud capabilities that cover both of these needs by introducing a custom microservice configuration for every workload. Whether your business needs public, private, or hybrid cloud solutions, Azure Stack guarantees a highly consistent web server and data centre run-time environment. The use of many proprietary software applications in production across private cloud, public cloud, edge servers, CDNs, and IoT devices now requires an increased focus on hybrid cloud networking services for advanced enterprise business management.

  • Public cloud services

    Azure Stack’s high consistency across public/private cloud integration supports on-demand, self-service computing resources in enterprise companies and other complex organisations. The solution is used extensively for complete data centre management in business, industry, government, and education. Users can migrate and modernise existing apps, and build new cloud-based apps for market using containers for support. Data centres can access a suite of network monitoring, data analytics, and anti-virus software that is production-ready. Azure Stack uses SDN to integrate seamlessly with Microsoft Azure’s PaaS developer tools.

  • Private cloud services

    Microsoft has service-level agreements in place with most major data centre hardware vendors, to make Azure Stack available pre-installed on rack servers from HPE, Dell, Cisco, Lenovo, etc. according to requirements. Integrator companies, MSPs, and consultants specialise in Azure Stack solutions based around regional enterprise requirements. Private cloud construction normally involves hands-on networking and “bare metal” servers, with fibre optic data connections, military-grade security, backup power, and cooling requirements that must be audited for standards compliance in a data centre.

  • Colocation centres

    Using a colocation facility can simplify the private cloud provisioning process for businesses due to on site resources like fibre, backup power, cooling, private security, etc. Most private cloud installations are on-premise by design according to the data security or local use requirements of the organisation. Use of a colocation center can speed up the deployment process while reducing the costs for hardware maintenance and upkeep of data centre facilities.

  • On-premise services

    Azure Stack allows you to run workloads ‘on prem’ and/or within a colocation facility. This provides stronger security parameters and helps you have control over your data and applications with a single management platform.

Azure Stack allows you to customise security over data, tapping into a private cloud where needed. This added security ensures all data, applications, and identities are secured, protecting your colleagues’ and clients’ sensitive information. It also provides a higher bandwidth server and faster data sharing, which the public cloud can sometimes lack. Azure Stack also offers major web security advantages for businesses.

How companies are using and optimising Microsoft Azure Stack

Using Azure Stack in private cloud facilities provides an extra level of security by keeping data securely stored on-premises, even without an Azure data centre connection (i.e., “air-gapped” systems). Microsoft’s Azure Stack appeals to many professional sectors of commerce, including the oil and gas industries, manufacturing, retail, healthcare services, and government agencies.

Many data science applications, machine learning, and artificial intelligence solutions are now being built professionally on Azure Stack for use with GPU/TPU hardware in a hybrid cloud:

  • Banking: Major banks use Azure Stack to securely host their online account management services and improve security in data centre operations through automated firewalls.
  • Finance: Wall Street trading firms use Azure Stack to deploy custom web servers for quant strategies, “Big Data” analysis, and statistical research.
  • Insurance: Global insurance companies use Azure Stack for their record keeping, accounting, and risk modelling requirements in on-premise data centres.

Some companies, especially in the finance sector, want to modernise legacy applications or other apps inherited through acquisitions, by porting the old code to the public cloud. Sometimes this solution requires that a portion of the application remain operating on a private web server or in-house data centre. Azure Stack benefits companies by providing a true internal cloud system, where users can take advantage of the best features of both public and private clouds, including support for containers.

Key features and examples of Azure Stack

The integrated hardware and software package of Azure Stack gives you the ability to choose a service provider or your own on-premise deployment. Since its introduction to the market, Azure Stack has added several features and updates, including the support for virtual machines. There’s also the benefit of an Azure Stack-focused version of the Azure Marketplace, allowing you to quickly add third-party software to your system. Another important feature is the integration of Kubernetes; an open-source system for automating the deployment, scaling, and managing of applications in containers. Data centres can also install popular VMware and OpenStack software platforms.

Developers get access to the Azure service fabric, allowing for easier migration to and from the public cloud. The Azure IoT Hub, while still in development, will enable users to connect, monitor, and manage billions of IoT assets. The Azure Event Hubs can integrate seamlessly with the Azure Stack to unlock valuable analytical insights. The Azure Stack Key Vault helps to safeguard cryptographic keys and secrets that cloud applications and services use. DevOps engineers use Chef, PowerShell, and other utilities to script web server deployments in automated data centre operations at scale.

Find out more about Azure Stack

Azure Stack simplifies the new model of hybrid cloud architecture so that applications can run on both the Azure Stack and Azure-related components with isolated Microservice support. Microsoft has given customers a new solution for easy cloud migration and flexibility, with self-service tools allowing users to access resources needed for database and code management through Visual Studio. Azure Stack has major advantages for web publishing, software development, and private data centre management. Contact us at Harbour IT and let our experts help you get started with hybrid cloud solutions using Azure Stack.

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Information Technology (IT), Cloud Computing, Managed IT Services, IT Infrastructure Solutions, Disaster Recovery, Professional IT Services, IT Security, Cloud Computing Security, IT Help Desk, IT Service Support Desk, Communications, Procurement, Systems Integration, Managed Print Services